Argentina great Maradona was caught on microphone discussing the Barcelona star with Brazil legend Pele at a publicity event on Thursday in Paris.
Pele asked his fellow World Cup winner if he knows his compatriot personally, prompting Maradona to offer an unguarded response.
“He’s a really good person, but he has no personality,” Maradona said.
“He lacks [the] character to be a leader.”
Pele responded: “Ah, I get it, he’s not like we were back in the days. In the 70s we [Brazil] had really good players like Rivellino, Gerson, Tostao.
“Not like Argentina now, which depends only on Messi. He [Maradona] is saying that Messi is a good player, there’s no doubt about it, but he has no personality.”